Monthly Archives: September 2012

How can an architectural intervention manipulate the landscape around it to unify the two?


Relationship Between Architecture and Landscape

Schumacher, Thomes L. “The Outside is the Result of an Inside.” Journal of Architectural Education, 2002 Sept., V. 56, No. 1, pp. 23-33.

This article discusses the style of architectural design in which the creation of interior space defines the outer space. The article begins by quoting Le Corbusier’s maxim: “The outside is a result of an inside.” The definition of the outer space is both in form, expressing the program occurring within, as well as in space, where the space of the interior defines the space of the exterior. The article talks about the importance of program essentially stating that architecture should be honest about what occurs behind the façade, and not display volumes, which contradict the programming on the interior. Despite different variations among architects about what programming is chosen to be projected on the façade of a building there is no doubting that everyone agrees that the exterior façade does not define what occurs on the interior, but the interior defines what happens on the façade. It also talks about being truthful in the sense that a building will convey what it is on the exterior: in this way a courthouse will be clearly identifiable as one, and not appear as something that it is not.

Beardsley, John. Earthworks and Beyond: Contemporary Art in the Landscape. (New York: Abbeville Press Publishers, 2006)

Beardsley’s text interprets many pieces of “earthworks” or “land art” it also looks at the improving public spaces through these types of interventions. He distinguishes earthworks from other more portable works of sculpture. He states that earthworks are strictly tied with the landscape they are placed. A large part of their content relies on their relationship with specific characteristics of their surroundings. The text assumes several assumptions: first that a person’s relationship to landscape is one of the most significant expressions of culture, second that the entire history of form building in the landscape is the foundation for contemporary work, thirdly that in the last several decades the distinctions between sculpture and other forms of artistic activity have blurred, and finally that Americans are afflicted with a profound ambivalence toward nature due to the impulse to exploit nature and the urge to protect what little of the natural world is left. Beardsley looks at many examples of earthworks from the natural landscape to the urban landscape.

Heidegger, Martin. “Building Dwelling Thinking”. Poetry, Language, Thought. (New York: Harper Colophon Books, 1971)

In his exploration toward answering the way in which building belongs to dwelling Heidegger uses the bridge as an example: “The bridge swings over the stream with case and power. It does not just connect banks that are already there. The banks emerge as banks only as the bridge crosses the stream.” The way in which architecture is inherently linked with the landscape, and the impact it has on defining it is intriguing. It is an interest in the sensible impact (not to say that it is necessarily an interest in an ephemeral design) on the landscape that the intervention makes that evokes my own interest. Heidegger also uses the bridge to talk about the creation of space versus the creation of place, though he calls it location. He states that the space is not place before the bridge sits there. “Before the bridge stands, there are of course many spots along the stream that can be occupied by something. One of them proves to be a location, and does so because of the bridge.”

Pollak, Linda and Berrizbeitia, Anita. Inside/Outside: Between Architecture and Landscape. (Massachusetts: Rockport Publishers, 1999)

Inside/Outside offers a discussion of several design projects, which embody a relationship between architecture and landscape. Through these precedents Pollak and Berrizbeitia examine five operations that characterize each work. Each operation (reciprocity, materiality, threshold, insertion, and infrastructure) articulates a conceptual approach to relations between architecture and landscape. Reciprocity aims to subvert the predominant view of landscape as only the ground on which architecture rests. The operation of materiality critiques the tradition of landscape and architecture in purely visual terms. Threshold rejects the reduction of transition from space to space to merely that of an abrupt crossing. Instead threshold is understood as a place of becoming. Insertion aims to draw connections between a space and its surroundings. The operation of infrastructure places architecture and landscape as a place where natural or true ground no longer exists.

Reflections on Readings

I chose the readings by Antoine Picon and Saskia Sassen regarding digital technology in relation to traditional forms of architectural representation thinking that it could relate to sculptural forms in architecture. The digital technology that they refer to allows for the creation of new geometric forms, which could not be generated with traditional representation. So in that way I thought to explore more on the topic of sculptural form. However, both articles more centrally focused on the implications of the new technology in terms of materiality, and what I was looking for was more in regards to functionality and performance. Both these articles represented contrasting points of view toward my own thoughts about sculptural form. They both discuss the lack of tectonic expression in their digitally generated forms, while I have always pictured tectonic ideas, especially in regards to structure, to be well expressed rather than hidden and not understood in relation to the form. It is my thought that the structure should actually reinforce or support the form of the enclosure.


The mind map exercise has helped to expand the terms of each of my general ideas. Thinking in this format has generated keywords which had not been perceived as being related earlier in the process. For example while diagramming the first map, procession, I found that interesting key terms such as time, arrival, and departure were connected to the original term. This brings more specificity not just to the term procession, but also to my other terms, which have lacked clear direction. The mind map for sculptural form turned up interesting terms including functionality and context. Finally, the architecture and landscape map showed the importance of the perception of the user as well as the difference between the public and private realms. Each map includes images taken from previous work, which are connected to the original term. 

Assignment A

                  The typical definition of research in the academic realm places importance on the solitary individual. One that produces reproducible results in a specific field of study, which works toward advancing the knowledge in that field. This definition isolates and divides design and research, and places research at a higher standing within academia. Does architecture’s place within the ranks of academy fall beneath that of research? There is a wealth of published work examining the relationship between design and research. This paper will explore the positions taken by David Wang in “Design in Relation to Research” and in B.D. Wortham’s article “The Way We Think about the Way We Think”. Both authors support amending the relation between design and research. The purpose of this essay is to compare the domains of design and research to reach an understanding of why the definition of research should be broadened to include design methodologies.

Placing research into the context of academia requires understanding what research embodies at its highest level. At the forefront of research in academic settings is advancing knowledge within the specific field of study that it focuses upon. Wortham explains the tendency towards specialization and specificity through what she calls “The Myth of Progress”: “The valorization of the specialist became and is especially prized in academia… Professors are encouraged to be as narrow and deep as possible. While this work is vital in the production of knowledge, it leaves gaping holes in [. . .] what we mean by knowledge” (Wortham, pp. 46) While this specificity generates knowledge within the field it in turn eliminates the possibility of open-ended knowledge and that which cannot be scientifically proven. Wortham sets up that the investigation in research does not ultimately lead to an answer, but that the investigation itself is the answer. Also of great significance to research is the employment of the scientific method. Scientific methodology in research allows the discoveries of an individual to be reconstructed by others and therefore confirmed as fact.

The process of design can benefit from as well as employ methods of research. With the advancement of knowledge design must in turn make advancements to accommodate for new materials and technologies. These advancements have a direct effect on the design of built forms. In the laboratory setting materials and construction assemblies are tested Wang describes what the impact of these findings in the lab setting: “These affect the writing of codes and regulations for the construction industry…” (Wang, pp. 121) This describes a way in which design benefits from experimental research, and in turn advances the knowledge of the design field.  While research leans toward specialization design in turn leans toward generalization. Wortham explains: “The generalist is able to move between disciplines with a facility that allows for knowledges to overlap and produceunexpected discoveries.” (Wortham, pp. 47) Due to the designer’s training in architecture he must be a generalist to posses the ability to bridge the gap between the art and science of building. Wortham’s argument is not an attempt to undermine the importance of the specialist, but its intent is in arguing to unite the work of the specialist with that of the generalist. The work of the generalist is not to be disregarded because its foundations are not in that of the scientific method. Though design’s roots do not lie under the teachings of the scientific method the methodology can be employed with success. Wang describes the use of a mixed-method research approach that is often used by designers in explaining the work of Dr. Lie Jiaping and his graduate students in China. The technique of mixed-method research involves the collection of and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data. Dr Liu and his students use: “[. . .] a multimethod research approach that includes, at the tactical level, ethnographic, survey, participant design, and experimental methods.” (Wang, pp. 125) Their work has helped in designing sustainable cave dwellings in a rural village in northern China.

The position of the process of design within the academic realm must be reconsidered in relation to research. As Wortham so clearly states: “The argument is not to abandon scientific methods of research but to make them one of the many ways of pursuing knowledge so that scholarship does not sacrifice connection and interaction at the altar of rationality.” (Wortham, pp. 46) If research in academy continues to be considered in the way it is currently, as being more legitimate than design one must assume that the audience for research is only that of experts. Design as research allows for the inclusion of both academics as well as society as a whole as the audience.

Works Cited

David Wang. “Design In Relation to Research”. Architectural Research Methods (2004), V. 6, No. 1

B.D. Wortham. “The Way We Think about the Way We Think: Architecture is a Paradigm for Reconsidering Research”, Journal of Architectural Education (Sept., 2007), V. 61, No. 1